2019 Activity Report

March Activity Report

31 March 2020
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Lu Lin

Post-disaster imaginaries...

It’s been a difficult and uncertain time for many people around the world as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads globally; people are staying inside and at home to step back from the process of illness transmission. However, universities have been working hard and fast to switch to online modes of delivery so that knowledge transmission can continue in various other social, technological and creative forms! We wish everybody the utmost strength, luck, and well wishes during this very difficult and strange time.

Before the university closed down, we held a wonderful film screening of the documentary Little Voices from Fukushima (2014) which looked at the lives of mothers and children in the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster.

Underpinning the film’s sentiments, it looked at how communities came together and envisioned new ways forward in the afterlife of crises; a particularly pertinent and timely sentiment for the entire world at the moment.

Until next month...

February Activity Report

29 February 2020
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Lu Lin

On love, on new frontiers in Japanese studies, and post-Fukushima...

Even though February is the shortest month of the year (and still, with the extra day this year), it was still a busy time in the Japanese Studies department at the university; especially in preparation for the new university semester beginning in early March. However, even with the absence of students on campus – the production and dissemination of knowledge has been busily carrying on in its various forms...

In early February we had a seminar by Professor Yamada Masahiro (from Chuo University), one of the most prominent scholars in Family Sociology in Japan, who presented his latest study on love, marriage, and relationship in contemporary Japan. His seminar, titled, “The decline of romantic love marriage in Japan: are relationships virtualised or diversified?” discussed why romantic love marriage has been declining, why increasing numbers of young people are not interested in ‘love and sex’, and why ‘virtual romantic relationship’ is getting popular in contemporary Japan. A fascinating and insightful seminar... delivered just one week before Valentine’s Day!

Professor Yamada Masahiro giving his seminar

Professor Akihiro Ogawa and Professor Philip Seaton have edited an exciting anthology titled, New Frontiers in Japanese Studies, to be released 5 April, 2020. As the title already suggests, the anthology aims to both trace the lineage of Japanese Studies over the last few decades but also speculate on the direction of such scholarship in contemporary, interdisciplinary, and transnational contexts, enacting Yoshio Sugimoto’s notion of ‘cosmopolitan methodology’. How exciting!

Preparation was also underway for the next instalment of the Inagaki Seminar Series, with an upcoming screening of the documentary, Little Voices from Fukushima (2014) looking at the lives of people in post-nuclear Fukushima. The screening will be held on Monday 9 March, 5:30-7:30pm at the Yasuko Hiraoka Myer Room. If you happen to be in Melbourne, please come!

Until next month...

January Activity Report

31 January 2020
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Lu Lin

New year and new decade!

We’re so excited to be starting the new year (and decade) here at the University of Melbourne; with the ball already rolling with activities and events for the year ahead.

Even though Semester 1 starts in March, we haven’t held back in getting right back into teaching and learning. In January, we had another overseas subject as part of the New Colombo plan (the New Colombo Plan is an initiative of the Australian Government which aims to strengthen knowledge and relations of the Indo Pacific in Australia by supporting Australian undergraduates to study and undertake internships in the region). Seven students from the University of Melbourne partook in the subject, titled ‘Variation in Japanese Language’ which began in mid-January at Osaka University. At the beginning of the week, they were welcomed with a buffet lunch at a restaurant overlooking the township of Suita, where they studied for two weeks at a 100-year-old shopping district.

Students studied on location, learning new expressions in classes in the morning and using their newly acquired expressions in the afternoon at local shops – a wonderful real-time application! To support their learning, the management of the shopping district offered each student 2,000 yen ($30) worth of shopping voucher to encourage them to explore the district and visit the shops. Students also had the opportunity to work at a local shop for a day, learning language and interaction skills necessary for business – what a marvellous, interactive, and practical application of their new language learning skills. Here are some of the students in action:

Back here in Melbourne, preparation is underway over the month of February for our next Inagaki 12 seminar – stay tuned for what’s to come!

Until next month...

December Activity Report

5 January 2020
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Lu Lin

Happy end-of-year and new year!

December is a quiet month at the university; while students, academic and professional staff close up the year for the holiday break between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, this is usually reserved for other equally important operations at the university outside of the semester – a lot’s been going on behind the scenes as the university gets ready for a new year, and a new decade.

This ‘interim’ period is also a month where Year 12 students from across the state of Victoria receive their “ATAR” score – the culmination of years of hard work and studying – whereby the score from the end of high school exams determines their admission into a tertiary education institution. The university congratulates these hardworking students and welcomes this new cohort into a new educational space; full of learning, growth, and possibility.

Here at the GJO and Japanese Studies program at Asia Institute, we are ready to head into another strong 2020 and continue to ensure that we maintain excellence in our program and in the diversity of our activities – from reading groups, to high quality teaching, to public seminars, and much more.

Stay tuned for the January report...

November Activity Report

5 December 2019
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Lu Lin

2019 roundup

Wow, what a year it’s been! So much has been going on at the Global Japan Office and the Japanese Studies program at the University of Melbourne. As we round up 2019 with end-of-year activities such as completing a full year of academic study (or degrees for some), the marking of assignments exams, graduations, and more – let’s reflect on what’s been happening at GJO Melbourne this year:

This year, we had wonderful Inagaki seminars from Carol Hayes (Australian National University), Akiko Shimizu (Tokyo University), Miranda Schreurs (Technical University of Munich), Emma Dalton (RMIT University), Tomoko Ichitani (Seinan Gakuin University), and Miki Hawkinson – delivering insightful and stimulating seminars spanning a wide array of topics such as institutional-specific language education, post-Fukushima art, public space and queer Tokyo, gender equality in Japan, and more.

With knowledge-sharing being a key function of the university; we’re delighted to have engaged throughout the year with so many well-considered and thoughtful events and projects in research, workshops, and publications to facilitate such a cross-cultural and cross-institutional endeavour of widening the reach of work occurring at the frontiers of Japanese Studies.

There was also an intensive overseas subject in Hokkaido called ‘Contemporary Japan’ which saw a total of 38 students from Melbourne and Hokkaido converge for two and a half weeks in the mid-year.

In August, we were delighted to welcome Professor Aaron Gerow (Yale University) to Melbourne. Professor Gerow, a renowned historian of Japanese cinema and film theory, partook in several events as part of his Walter Mangold Visiting Fellowship which included a masterclass, a public lecture, and a couple of fantastic film screenings. His visit was a great wrap-up to the Japan Centenary celebration over the past three years. During this time, we’ve had a record high enrollment in Japan-related subjects; and we’re envisioning a strong future ahead for Japanese Studies here at the university.

Professor Akihiro Ogawa and Philip Seaton from Tokyo University of Foreign Studies have also been co-editing an anthology together on New Frontiers in Japanese Studies.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to everyone – we hope you enjoy your New Year break and get some time to savor the holiday season, new years, and new decades... until 2020!

October Activity Report

31 October 2019
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Lu Lin

End of semester updates

This is our second last report for the year as it comes to a close – ”time flies” as is (often) the turn of phrase.

This month for our last Inagaki 11 seminar for the year, we were very lucky to have Professor Akiko Shimizu – a leading expert on queer theory – from the University of Tokyo come all the way to Melbourne despite the typhoons and hold-ups in international air traffic, luckily! She gave an insightful seminar on sexual/spatial politics and the “(ab)use” of public space by the LGBT community in pre-Olympic Tokyo. With greater visibility of queer, gender, and feminist politics in the post-Internet age, we’re fortunate to host these very important discussions in a cross-cultural and institutional context!

Thank you to Dr Claire Maree, one of our senior lecturers in the Japanese Studies program at Asia Institute for coordinating.

And, in the same vein of cross-institutional knowledge-sharing; Professor Akihiro Ogawa (also based here at the University of Melbourne) and Professor Philip Seaton (from Tokyo University of Foreign Studies) have been working hard in co-editing a book together called New Frontiers in Japanese Studies; featuring an array of papers examining cultural, historical, political and social contexts and implications surrounding the study of ‘Japan’. It’s on its way to the publishers soon so look out for what will no doubt be a very important contribution to Japanese Studies.

As the year comes to a close and Christmas party invitations are being distributed across the faculty; students, academics, and professional staff are working hard to close the year with planning meetings for 2020 already taking place.

Good luck to all our hard-working students entering SWOTVAC period (what’s known as Study Without Teaching Vacation here in Australia) in preparation for end of year exams. We’ve had record high enrollments in Japanese studies this year, and students are working hard to share what they’ve learnt during a busy but productive year!

Until next (and the last) month for 2019!

September Activity Report

30 September 2019
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Lu Lin

Rolling into the latter parts of the year...

We’re well over halfway through the semester! We had a non-teaching week (or known colloquially across Australian universities as a “mid-semester break”) in the first week of October (already?), as students knuckle down and work towards their end of year assignments.

While September was less busy on the events front than last month, we had our Inagaki 10 seminar with Professor Carol Hayes from Australian National University who gave an incisive lecture on teaching Japanese language education, drawing from her experiences and teaching practice at ANU. She gave insights on navigating changes in approaches to language teaching (e.g. how changes in technology also shift the terms for student-teacher engagement), and expanded on how her approach in response to such shifts also creates new spaces for rich classroom engagement – which can be applied to all levels of education in all languages. We’re grateful for Professor Hayes’ travelling south to Melbourne from the capital city to engage in cross-institutional knowledge and teaching sharing!

It’s still a busy time as students, teachers, and academic administration staff work hard to keep the flow of knowledge going!

While the semester rolls on, we’re also in the midst of preparing for our Inagaki 11 seminar (last one for the year) by Professor Akiko Shimizu from the University of Tokyo, who will present a seminar on sexual/spatial politics and the “(ab)use” of public space by the LGBT community in Tokyo. If you happen to be in Melbourne on October 15, please come!

Until next month...

August Activity Report

31 August 2019
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Lu Lin

Busy and exciting August of visitors, events, film screenings, collaborations, and more!

It’s been a busy and exciting start to the semester and a lot’s been happening here at the Japanese Studies department this month – with a number of great events!

In August, we were delighted to welcome Professor Aaron Gerow (Yale University) to Melbourne. Professor Gerow, a renowned historian of Japanese cinema and film theory, partook in several events as part of his Walter Mangold Visiting Fellowship. Of these, an excellent Japanese Film Theory Masterclass, held at the Interactive Cinema Space, which focused on how Japanese film theory lends itself to thinking through Eurocentric histories of cultural theory.

In addition, there were also a couple of excellent film screenings of some Japanese classics held at the Southbank campus’ Federation Hall:

Professor Gerow’s fully booked-out 2019 Walter Mangold Lecture was a more fleshed out version of his masterclass, with a focus on translating Japanese film theory and the rich genealogy of approaches to cinema from Japan that can be incorporated into – but also to decentre – the Eurocentrism in Western film theory.

Professor Gerow delivering a seminar to our Japanese Studies program staff.

We’re thankful for Professor Gerow’s visit, his rich scholarship, and his generosity in sharing such insights! His visit was a great wrap-up to the Japan Centenary celebration over the past three years. During this time, we’ve had a record high enrollment in Japan-related subjects; and we’re envisioning a strong future ahead for Japanese Studies here at the university.

More recently, the Japanese Studies Program also hosted its annual Postgraduate Conference in Japanese Studies with Kwansei Gakuin (Kangaku) University over two days (28 – 29 August). This is the third year of our teaching and mentoring collaboration between the University of Melbourne and Kangauku, which began in 2017. This year we had eight very high-quality and thoughtful papers, four of which came from us (2 PhD and 2 Honours students), covering a diverse range of topics from: gender and sexuality in Japan, intercultural communication, historical perspectives on law and politics, the concept of “otaku” (“uncool” people in contemporary Japanese culture), and more!

Our program staff members were actively engaged in advising and supporting these emerging scholars – giving their time in chairing the panels, eliciting ideas through Q&A, transferring academic techniques (such as presentation skills), and a post-conference follow-up included providing support and mentoring for publishing some of these papers in graduate journals – a great and important effort to foster the work of early career researchers.

The third annual Postgraduate Conference in Japanese Studies with students from the University of Melbourne and Kwansei Gakuin (Kangaku) University.
A delicious dinner afterwards at the Japanese restaurant Shakuhari!

Wow, it seems like we’ve really launched into the semester! Well over a month in, there’s still a lot that’s coming up – stay tuned...

July Activity Report

31 July 2019
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Lu Lin

Beginnings and endings for the middle of the year!

This month has been full of new beginnings at the GJO in Melbourne: the beginning of semester began in wintery late July, and the GJO office in Melbourne farewelled Daniel Pham and welcomed an interim office coordinator: Lu Lin.

During the university’s official mid-year break, an intensive overseas subject, ‘Contemporary Japan’, ran from 1-17 July 2019 at Hokkaido University. In its third year running, the program saw the participation of a total of 38 students from Melbourne and Hokkaido. In the final weekend, students had the opportunity to engage with the indigenous culture and peoples of Hokkaido – the Ainu – and Ainu aunties were invited to class for intercultural dialogue and exchange with students; what a privilege to learn about and share culture in such an immediate, live, face-to-face way! Students also had the opportunity to visit a field museum, Kawamura Kaneto Aynu Memorial Hall, which is located in Asahikawa and is one of the oldest Ainu culture museums in Japan! The subject is coordinated by Professor Akihiro Ogawa in collaboration with colleagues from Hokkaido University and Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. This year, fifteen students from Melbourne were funded by the New Colombo scheme (an Australian government initiative to deepen two-way engagement between Australia and the Indo-Pacific).

Students from the University of Melbourne, Hokkaido University and Tokyo University of Foreign Studies who partook in the Contemporary Japan intensive subject

And, at the GJO office in Melbourne; organisation was underway for a number of upcoming events and visitors:

We have Professor Aaron Gerow (Yale University) – a renowned American historian of Japanese cinema – who will be here for a number of events this month including: a couple of cinema screenings at the Southbank campus’ beautiful Federation Hall, a media/film masterclass on reading Japanese film theory [link: https://events.unimelb.edu.au/events/13068-masterclass-reading-japanese-film-theory], a Japanese Studies program seminar, and a public lecture as part of the Walter Mangold Visiting Fellow program.

Next month, we’ll also be welcoming Dr Carol Hayes (Australian National University, Canberra) who will present a seminar on “Trends in Japanese Language Education through an ANU Lens” [link: https://events.unimelb.edu.au/events/13188-trends-in-japanese-language-education-through-an-anu-lens] for the Inagaki Seminar 10 next month – if you are, somehow, in Melbourne on September 10 – please come!

We would also like to welcome all new – and welcome back – Japanese studies students to the university, and to Asia Institute! As you can see, it’s been a busy and exciting time here. As winter solstice is now over and the days get longer, we look forward to a fruitful and stimulating semester ahead!

Until next month...

June Activity Report

5 June 2019
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Daniel Phan

G’day fellow GJO’ers!

While this month was a markedly joy-filled one for some (very) lucky students who undertook Japan-based learning through the University of Melbourne and its partner institutions, it is with great sadness that June was my last at the Global Japan Office.

I am however thrilled to report that this cosy operation we have maintained here will be in safe hands. Having shared a co-working space with my successor, Ms Lu Lin, over the past 6 months, I can attest to her diligence and keen advocacy for improved classroom outcomes. It is such infectious enthusiasm and perspective that I hope will shine through her presence! So please join me in warmly welcoming Lu to the GJO family – I promise you will enjoy her reports and expectedly flawless RMIT School of Media and Communication turn of phrase!

So, now to the (kind of) serious stuff! The Tandem (Academic) Learning Project program, held in Hokkaido this year, ran for three days in late June. Twelve students – three each from Melbourne and the University of Helsinki in Finland and six from the host institution, Hokkaido University – participated in the program.

The stated aims in the language and research exchanges yielded all-round positive results, with our representatives from Australia – Natalie McKay, Saffron Lai and Christian Demetriou – receiving positive feedback from their Japanese counterparts and academic staff. In between the sessions, students were active in networking with staff and peers in the evening. The participants also spent a day sightseeing in Sapporo to conclude the program, which is expected to be next held in Melbourne in 2021.

Finally, it would be remiss of me to finish my last submission for the GJO without extending my utmost gratitude to Professor Akihiro Ogawa for according me this wonderful opportunity to engage with my lifelong curiosities about Japan, its history, peoples and wonderfully complex culture. Aki-san, as he is known around the traps here at the Asia Institute, become more than just a boss but rather a keen mentor and friend. Thank you, boss!

May Activity Report

31 May 2019
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Daniel Phan

Winter is here!

This month was a rather exciting one for Japan and Japanese Studies enthusiasts. While the ninth installment of the Asia Institute’s Inagaki Seminar 9, titled ‘Transpacific Imagination: Nuclear Representation in Australia and Japan’, was the only major public event – May is typically the time when students across the state of Victoria (and much of Australia) begin to taste the Jekyll-and-Hyde pandemonium of SWOTVAC (Study Without Teaching Vacation) which precedes exams and final assessments. SWOTVAC has long been an institution and is the stuff of cramming legend among many a snowed-under university student in the land Down Under – not that we at GJO Melbourne endorse or condone such an approach to study, especially vis-à-vis anything Japan-related! Now I did mention that the month is an exciting one…because a handful of lucky undergraduate students will be embarking on an Overseas Intensive Subject in Hokkaido, Japan in around a months’ time! Upon successful completion, the subject, Contemporary Japan, should accord students new perspectives on Japanese society that will equip them to navigate the diverse complexes and dichotomies that touch upon modern Japan. Additionally, three students – two undergraduate honours and one PhD – will also be headed to Hokkaido for the Tandem (Academic) Language Learning Project (TLLP), a bilingual research program between the University of Melbourne, the Graduate School of International Media Communication and Tourism Studies of Hokkaido University, and Department of World Cultures of Helsinki University. The program aims to foster improved language outcomes through critical and engaging exchanges and activities between students in their non-native tongues. It is indeed an exciting time for those selected to participate.

Entry-level Japanese with Ms. Masako Nagayama. This class comprises students from a diverse range of disciplines.
Professor Akihiro Ogawa working tireless on his upcoming title with Professor Philip Seaton of TUFS.
Inagaki Seminar 9 presenter Professor Tomoko Ichitani (Visiting Senior Fellow at the Australian Centre and Professor of Literature and Cultural Studies at Seinan Gakuin University)
In typical Melbourne fashion the evening weather at its unforgiving best which was perfect for an indoors seminar at confines of the Asia Institute.

April Activity Report

30 April 2019
Global Japan Office Coordinator
Daniel Phan

Winter is nearing…!

April is typically a busy month on campus at the University of Melbourne – students still easing into the new semester are suddenly confronting the onslaught of assessments and all the while much of the rest of the population enjoys the public holidays and ensuing long-weekends. April also heralds a seasonal change from summer to autumn (fall, for those better acquainted with North American English) which sees the local weather take on a Jekyll and Hyde act: one moment shorts and t-shirts, the next windcheaters and pullovers are absolutely mandatory. In short, it is cold and windy but the month is punctuated by sporadic warm and sunny days when memories are made and wintry pain is temporarily an afterthought. Welcome to Melbourne!

Amid all this, members of the Japanese studies and language team were brought together on a rather frosty evening for the 8th instalment of the Inagaki Seminar series (see photos), named after Moshi Inagaki who pioneered Japanese language study at the University a century ago. A mainstay of the Japanese program at UoM, the Inagaki series has become an institution for all Japan-interested minds owing to the support and time from the Program Head. With the #MeToo movement making headlines globally, it was a rally opportune moment for an informative session on the gender inequalities persisting in Japanese political and economic life in spite of the narrow gender gap in health and education. It was a delight for Dr Emma Dalton to explore and unpack the issues of inequality of the sexes in the workplace issues through the context of Japanese society.

In May the Inagaki Seminar series will be welcoming Professor Tomoko Ichitani of Seinan Gakuin University to Australia as a Visiting Senior Fellow.